Smile Please!

November 26th, 2012
Gwyn Headley

by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

Say cheese!

What do other nations say when taking a photograph of people? Maybe some of our fotoLibra members in 161 different countries can enlighten me?

One person who’ll be smiling tonight is David Douglas Duncan, the great American war photographer. I must confess that as I’m not a photographic historian, I hadn’t heard of him, but his photographs of WWII and the Korean war brought him fame.

When he was 40 he introduced himself to Picasso, and went on to publish seven books of photographs of the great artist.

Now his camera, a Leica M3D, has just sold at auction in Austria for a record-breaking £1.4 million. Leica made the M3 from 1954 to 1966, and the D suffix was because this particular camera was made specifically for David Douglas Duncan. He wasn’t exclusively a Leica man; Nikon gave him the 200,000th Nikon F in recognition of his help in popularising the camera.

In 1986 you could pick up a Leica M3 with double-stroke advance in excellent condition for $125. What would it be worth now?

The most expensive camera ever sold was also a Leica, the prototype Leica O-series from 1923, also sold in Austria in May this year for €2.16 million. That fetched $25,000 in 1986.

How much will your prized Canon or Nikon be worth a few years down the road? I’ve got my eye on another Leica M3, a gold jobby as distinct from the common-or-garden chrome or black versions. I think I know where it is, too — it’s inside Buckingham Palace, property of HM The Queen.

I wonder how much THAT would be worth?




Add your comment


25 Responses to “Smile Please!”

  1. James Morgan says:

    Hi Gwyn,
    If you want something better than a cheesy smile from adults and you know your public, just ask them to say SEX. It always works, with more engaging smiles.

  2. Richard Wright says:

    I work in a school with good catering, and find that “think of lunch” works better – with kids. With teachers it’s: “think of the end of term…”

    I think I’d better not try James’s suggestion – at least not with the students.

  3. Paul says:

    In 1986 you could pick up a Leica M3 with double-stroke advance in excellent condition for $125. What would it be worth now?

    There is one on ebay currently priced at £659 (lens extra). Maybe the bargain of the day!

  4. Paul says:

    There is a Leica M3 with double-stroke advance on ebay currently priced at £659 (lens extra). The bargain of the day!

  5. PAul says:

    Something that ends in the “ee” sound, and goes across languages? SPAGHETTI – took me a few seconds to work out why my German friend with the camera was talking about lunch while photographing his friends!

    • James Morgan says:

      You might be right Paul, I saw a Prophotog ask his posing crowd in Brazil to say “XIXI” which means pee. Had a lot of impromptu smiles and laughter. he got the shot.

  6. peta says:

    I always request people to say penis, works a treat with my 78 year old mother, plus you get a pout at the start of the word!!

  7. Helen Chater-Franks says:

    The Queen used to have a gold plated 35mm Rollei that she used when she went on foreign trips. Not sure she ever exhibited any of the photos like her grand-daughter in law though!

    • Gwyn Headley says:

      Did I make a mistake? Was it a gold-plated Rollei, not a gold plated Leica? I must check my facts first, and not rely on my encyclopaedic memory.

      Anyway, whichever it was, it was irrevocably Bling. In the Compass Rose of Good Taste, you’ll find the Upper Middle Class at the north point and royalty and formerly destitute lottery winners together at the south.

      Who says I’m a snob?

  8. Len Sparrow says:

    I have been a Leica fan since my Leica 111C in the late 1950s. I graduated to an M3 and finally to an M6, a beautiful little camera.I splashed out £1500 for that one for a special birthday present to myself. When the digital age dawned I had to say farewell to it. Quite a fond one as it turned out. I sold it on Ebay to a gentleman in South Korea for £2200! Proving that Leicas always improve in value with age. I have kept my link with Leica as I now use a Lumix with a Leica lens(correctly this should be named a Leitz lens). However I have recently noticed in Which magazine that Leica now have their own bridge camera. Time for another switch!

  9. Sammy says:

    I once did a season as camp photographer, hundreds of portraits per day, my secret weapon was a plastic hand clapper, I would shake the clapper like crazy above my head and every member of the family would look,even the babies! Getting the shot with everyone actually looking meant more sales! To get unwilling children to co-operate I would whisper to them “Think of a swear word, I won’t tell!” Always resulted in a cheeky grin 🙂

  10. John Cleare says:

    Nice bit of kit…but…?
    I bought my first Leica – a very handy 3G – in 1959 and I still own, but never now use, an M2 and an M4. These were ‘Works’ jobbies, supplied and WINTERISED, by Wetzlar, for our 1971 attempt on Everest South Face. I also took along the two Nikon F’s I used for my everyday work. In the event the Leicas froze up above 23,000 feet but my regular Nikons kept going.

    Yes, in my opinion Leicas are good kit for certain specialised jobs but very limited in their application and thus overvalued if one considers that a camera is but a tool.

    May I add a belated comment to the previous blog entry? It’s my regular hobby horse about misleading / wrong / LYING captions.
    Daily Telegraph ‘Discover’ ( i.e Travel ) section for November 11th ran a big feature on the ‘Wonders of Snowdon’ and the LEAD image, run 12 inches plus across the page, was a very nice snowy mountain landscape credited to Getty. Not only was it captioned as Snowdon, but the location was specified ” View of Snowdon from Lake Nantlle Uchaf ” But of course it wasn’t. It was a mountain called Y Garn seen over Llyn Ogwen nearly ten crow-fly miles away at the other end of Snowdonia. As the picture editor (?) could hardly be expected to recognise this, Getty’s caption must have been wrong.
    Do they care ? The picture was sold ( for what fee, I wonder ) UNDER FALSE PRETENCES. Why is everything dumbed down these days ? Is there no pride in getting things RIGHT ?

    • Mark Goodwin says:

      Excellent post John.

      And three cheers for Nikon, I remember saving for my first one in about 1971 and managed to buy a s/h Nikkormat. I later was able to move up to an F2 Photomic head. On one of my first trips out, I opened the tailgate of the car, and I had carelessly, left the camera bag unzipped, so that when I drove, the bag rolled and the camera fell into the loading space, opened the gate and it rolled straight out onto the tarmac!
      I picked it up and the top right hand corner had a dent in it and the brassy colour showing through the black. And that was it, just carried on as normal and did the shoot without any problems. I continued to use it for a number of years without any problems at all.
      Not so sure how my D2X or D3S would stand up to that sort of treatment today.

  11. Derek Metson says:

    With kids in the studio we always used to use ‘bananas’ as the magic word.

    Asked one kid what was the magic word. ‘I don’t know.’

    ‘Its yellow and goes round corners.’



  12. Hi Gwyn, I was finally able to apply my iconic rock and roll photos from the 70’s on my website. You mentioned you used to play with some of the legends.
    John Lee Hooker, Beach Boys, Grateful Dead, others…Look at the site and let me know what you think,

  13. Do these photos fit in a “collection” type application for your interests.
    thanks again,

  14. Amanda Ofosu-Siaw says:

    Great read!